Hillsdale College Chemistry Classroom

A Walk Down the Chemistry Hall

Written by Kate Vanderstelt

The end of ten o’clock classes rolls around, and the top floor of Strosacker Science Center is about to see a bustle of energetic students. The first section of organic chemistry has just released, and the second is about to commence. Analytical chemistry is almost in session. Welcome to the chemistry department.

At 10:52 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I walk from Logic and Rhetoric in Kendall Hall to analytical chemistry in Strosacker. I cannot wait to bond with my fellow science students over a fifty-minute class covering reactions and complexes that I will surely have to practice over and over again later on in the evening. I waltz into a classroom whose walls are filled with chalk boards and set my backpack down at a desktop, then dance my way to the bathroom across the hall, where I run into three friends discussing today’s lab quiz or a concept we are about to learn in class.

The bathroom rally proceeds out into the hallway. We pop into the professors’ alcove, check our “boxes” (containing folders through which graded assignments return to us), and sneak into Dr. Baron’s office, where a flowing supply of candy is kept for all of our nutritional, before-class needs. One Monday—a rough one in particular—Dr. Baron’s door is locked. A fellow analytical student and I find candy by another means—how could we get through lecture without it? Upon walking into class, we hear students all around asking, “Oh, is Dr. Baron back? I was really hoping I could grab some candy before class.”

Lectures are filled with laughs as professors bond with students over difficult material explained by analogies or colorful demonstrations. Hands shoot up, hoping to conquer some of the most challenging questions of the day. Frequent nods appear from heads around the room as a concept clicks in another eager student’s mind. Labs are filled with one student asking another to confirm a buret reading, pass the HCl, or simply chatting in order to make a four-hour lab seem like a two-hour one.

The chemistry department is filled with students working hard, in the classroom and in lab, toward aspirations of all sorts. Some, like me, are pursuing science to enhance their lives amidst other passions, like being an English major. Others are setting their sights toward medical school, physical therapy school, research science, or another science-related career field. My best friend is studying biochemistry to pass her passion on through teaching high school students.

Sciences are hard. At Hillsdale College, science majors conquer the curriculum together through many long nights and many laughter-filled challenges along the way. We get by all of the 8 a.m. lectures and labs with just a little help from professors’ candy stashes, and we push through Constitution classes, logic classes, and history classes while simultaneously writing endless lab reports to make us well rounded. The struggle of science, however strenuous, is filled with an unbeatable culture of support.

Kate VandersteltKate Vanderstelt, ‘20, studies English and chemistry. She is an athlete on the Cross Country and Track and Field teams and a member of Chi Omega Fraternity.

Published in November 2018